How to Format an SD Card in the GoPro HERO12

Formatting an SD card in the camera frees up space on the card and prepares it for receiving data. Here’s how to do it on the GoPro HERO12 Black.

GoPro HERO12 Black with microSD Cards. Photo by David Coleman
Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:
Filed Under: Memory Cards

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The first thing you’ll need to do after inserting a new SD card into your GoPro HERO12 Black is format it.

This wipes the card, resets the filesystem type, and prepares the folders/directories that the camera needs for saving data. And by deleting all of the existing data, it also frees up space for the next shoot so you don’t run out of storage space.

It’s quite possible that a brand new SD card will come preformatted when you take it out of tthe box and work just fine in the camera right off the bat. But doing that risks problems that are easily avoidable by simply formatting the card from the get-go.

You can format the card in the camera. Or you can format it using a computer.

Of those options, formatting the card in the camera is the best and most reliable option, and it’s the one I’m focusing on here. (If you choose to format the SD card using a computer, I recommend using the free SD Card Formatter app provided by the SD Association. It sets the card up according to the official SD card specs and reduces the risk of problems.)

There are two methods for formatting an SD card in the HERO12 camera.

  • One uses the camera’s on-screen menu system.
  • The other uses the GoPro Quik mobile app.

Both methods work equally well, and one method isn’t better than the other. I’ve got information on how to do both methods below. Both have been consistent with other recent GoPro models.

But first: a reminder that formatting the card is going to wipe all the data from the SD card. So be sure to have downloaded any photos or videos you want to keep. 

Method 1: Format the SD Card with the HERO12’s On-Screen Menu System

Preferences > Reset > Format SD Card

On the camera’s back screen menu, swipe down to show the dashboard. Then swipe from right to left to bring up the panel for Preferences.

Then scroll down to Reset, the last option at the bottom of the list. 

Then choose the Format SD Card item. 

GoPro HERO12 Black Format SD Card

Method 2: Format the microSD Card Using the GoPro Quik Mobile App

The second method still formats the SD card in the camera itself, but the controls are off-camera, through the mobile app. 

  1. Power on your HERO12 and connect the Quik app.
  2. Tap on the wrench icon at the top right of screen to open the settings.
  3. Scroll down to Delete All Files from SD Card.
Screenshot of GoPro Quik app for deleting all files from SD card in a GoPro HERO12 Black

Things Worth Knowing

I have a more general post on how to format SD cards in GoPro cameras that includes some extra troubleshooting tips as well as information on how to do it in other models.

Quick format vs Full format. The GoPro HERO12 Black performs what’s known as a quick format, which basically wipes the master index but doesn’t actually wipe the underlying data. That’s good if there’s a chance you might need to recover the data at some point, but it can be problematic if you have sensitive data on the memory card. In that case, you’ll want to perform what’s known as a full format or overwrite format. You can’t do that on the GoPro itself, but you can do it with a computer. I have a rundown of quick format vs full format and the various options separately.

Best SD Cards for GoPros

Since 2013, after running into trouble with an SD card that was too slow for the HERO3 Black, I've been putting together my recommendations on the best SD cards for GoPro cameras. Because some GoPro models have specific requirements, I've also put together detailed model-specific pages.

Text & Photos by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here.

I've been shooting with GoPros for years, starting with the HD HERO, and have owned and used just about every model since. More »

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